18th June 2020. An unforgettable day for me. Having spent slightly more than two months here in the beautiful city and technologically advanced campus of CIT, today is the last day here for us interns of the CIT-SDU development exchange programme.
The main objective of the said exchange programme is to have SDU and CIT students undertake a project of the relevant course in the respective universities and complete it in the stipulated time of ten weeks, or rather nine since the one week is spent of administrative procedures.
Being here in the later half of spring and the early bit of summer, we or at least I have had an utmost memorable experience working on the software of the years to come with my CIT counterparts, while others undertook other projects of their respective studies within the same building specifically assigned for such collaborations by CIT.
And as expected of us, all the projects have been completed to their minimal degree of success; with some way more than the others, perhaps because of their varying level of challenge. I suppose that having a genius to provide feedback and advice also greatly contributed to some of the projects, in particular the one I worked on and a certain other one.
Hard work and studies aside, the past three days mainly consisted on the project teams cleaning up their own areas with post mortem meetings conducted and otherwise, a whole load of partying. Normally, I would very much rather not take part but not wanting to appear unfriendly to the project members I worked with and have somewhat grown attached to, I joined them in their merry making varying from dining at a themed cafe to a party at the house of a professor who supervised us.
Not being an adventurous type, I spent a majority of the few weekends here spending extra time to work on the project while others visited nearby cities and towns, in disregard to the fact that the one of the guidelines given to us was to only work for specified hours on weekdays of each week. This however, gave me the chance to spend whatever remaining time to explore CIT itself more.
From being a typical open campus university a few years back to converting the city it was based in to an entire city of education and technological advancements, CIT also convinced the other renown universities in its vicinity to merge beneath its flag, which at one point caused a huge uproar in both the state and worldwide.
Everything else in regard to the history of how this all came to be and what it is now would be another story but itself. My concern at this point is that despite my short time here, I have become more or less familiarised with the regular events around here, such as the farmers’ market and general type of people living or visiting the place.
It might be me being over conscious but the atmosphere in the past week had become tense. For example, it had become a routine for most of us who did not prepare our own boxed lunches to get something from the food trucks that stationed themselves along the small road of CIT medical centre from late morning till the afternoon. Sometime in the middle of the previous week, a new black armoured truck parked itself along the same road.
While it had picked a spot where none of the other food trucks normally parked, it has since sparked the interest of almost everybody who walked by it. The vehicle itself was inactive for most of the time, but accordingly to some of the students who work late into the night, they claim to have seen a small radar dish rise from the top of the truck in the middle of each night.
Furthermore, a car would stop by each night, from which a person in black suit would alight to bring a huge carrier bag over to the truck and exchange it with whoever is inside for an almost equally huge carrier that he or she would bring back to the car before it drove off.
To affirm these tales, my last trip to the nearest supermarket took me by surprise as I also saw a number of people in black suits. More surprising was the fact that the place was having a clearance sale, that according to a cashier who I befriended over my many visits, is due to the fact that branch in particular was abruptly bought over; most probably by the same group of people.
I wasn’t too upset as that meant I got a lot more for less in my final grocery trip, allowing me to tank up on more ice cream than I could possibly eat. The locals weren’t too happy, but made the most of the sale that wasn’t a regular affair. As it turned out, some interns who went after they found out about this said that the store was almost completely cleared by the time they reached there and as they left after buying what they could, the black suits assisted the store personnel closing up.
Last I heard, the supermarket is well boarded up by this morning and some renovation works were under way. Apparently, the supermarket itself was set to be relocated to another place a mile odd away and opened in a week’s time.
Reflecting on all this, it could be the start of some large scale conspiracy, or as everyone else outwardly theorise, be early security preparations for this year’s Independence Day celebration. History wise, these sort of things have never occurred before. Then again, the city administration has declared on local media that the celebration plans for this year are to be on a whole new level so speculations of these all being early security measures may very well be true.
It is truly a pity though, that this exchange ends just slightly more than two weeks before the celebration. Unlike some of the others who could afford the time and money to stay on for a few more weeks to tour more in the surrounding states and maybe come back just for the event, I need to get back to my own country as I have another ongoing project that requires my attention soon after I return.
Set to depart later this evening, or to be exact, very early the next morning, the remaining of time will be spent saying goodbyes, packing up and clearing out as much of the excess groceries that we got. All else aside, I will still miss this place and am pretty sure that I won’t be forgetting the time I spent here anytime soon. With luck, I might come back here in future for some reason.
Signing off, one of the few and very fortunate interns of a wonderful exchange programme.
Rummaging through a bin outside one of CIT’s many speciality shops, Greoff hoped to find some decent grub for dinner from a discarded lunch box. Picking out one, he opened it only to find stale fries from a sandwich meal of the nearby cafeteria.
Tossing it back in disgust, he gave up and walked away after sensing the evasive glances from some nearby foreigners. What are they even looking at? Can’t they understand that a poor homeless guy has got to do what he must to get by? Spitting in anger, he shuffled down the streets in his pair of thrown out Nikes.
For a city like this, it was surprising that people like Greoff could still stay on. In a sense, the liberal culture allowed a wide group of people to live here, as long as you were not a criminal of any kind. Security wise, the police here had some way to quickly locate such people and arrest them. If there was one thing that changed ever since CIT took over the city, it would be state law.
Petty crimes aside, serious ones that result in capital punishment has since taken a huge turn. Execution was made common for such cases and the chosen jury always seem to be particularly set on seeing the accused dead. Such crimes included murder, armed robbery and so on down to aggravated assault. Oddly enough, others like drug dealing weren’t as tightly controlled and for some reason, restricted to very specific parts of the city an average student would never go to.
Then again, all these knowledge wasn’t helping an unfortunate, or more accurately described, bum like Greoff find any dinner. Making his way by a convenience store, he accidentally bumped into a lady in black suit who in turn fell backwards, knocking into the man in black suit behind her, who drops the carriers he had in hand in order to catch her.
“Watch where you are going!” shouts the lady as she got back up.
“Greoff is sorry. Greoff help men in black pick up goods. Here. Here.”
Greoff picks up a hotdog box that had fallen out and tries to put it back into one of the carriers but is stopped by the female black suit.
“What do you think you are…ahh never mind. It’s dirty so just take it away.”
“But Greoff only touching box. Here, me wipe.” says Greoff, gesturing to clean it with his shirt.
“No! It’s fine. Just take it and be off.” says the female black suit as she motioned for the man carrying the bags to leave.
“Thank you. Thank you.”
Smiling to himself, Greoff briskly walked off in the opposite direction, elated from having a free meal also literally dropped from heaven. Seeing the bum move off so quickly, the male black suit nudged his female companion by the side.
“Madam, was that really a good idea?”
“I rather that be disposed then risk having one of us getting food poisoning at such a time! Besides, dirtied food for a dirty man, a fitting end.” she replies as she takes out a disinfectant spray and a napkin to clean the spots of her suit that had come into contact with the bum.
“Very insightful, madam! I initially mistook it for an act of kindness.”
The female black suit shot a sharp glare at her subordinate, before discarding the napkin she used into the nearby trash can.
“Let that sort of mistake be your first and last.” she says before walking off towards the car they parked across the road.
“It will never happen again, madam!” replies the man as he takes a few broad steps to catch up.